Iron County LST-840 - History

Iron County LST-840 - History

Iron County

(LST-840: dp. 1,625; 1. 32S'; b. .50'; dr. 11'; s. 12 k.; cpl.
266; a. 8 40mm., 12 20mlll.; cl. LsT-542)

LST-840 was laid down by American Bridge Co., Ambridge, Pa., 28 September 1944; launched 16 November; sponsored by Mrs. C. W. Doerr; and commissioned 11 December, Lt. David McC. Bon in command.

Following shakedown off Florida, LST-840 loaded cargo at Gulfport, Miss., then sailed 14 January 1945 for the Pacific. Additional cargo stops were made at San Francisco and Seattle before departing for the Marshall Islands. She arrived Eniwetok 24 March.

After preparations in theM arshall and Caroline Islands, the landing ship departed Ulithi 12 April for Okinawa. The battle for this strategic island, which lay at the gateway to the Japanese homeland was well underway when LST-840 arrived on the 18tl;. She unloaded combat engineers and equipment, then returned Ulithi 5 May.

For the remainder of World War II, she shuttled troops and cargo throughout the American staging areas in the Pacific. After V-J Day, LST-840 operated with U.S. occupation forces in Japan and Okinawa for the next 3 ~nonths. Embarking 500 marines at Guam, she departed 11 November en route to Pearl Harbor and the United States. Arriving San Diego 15 December, she remained on the West Coast until she decomlllissioned at Vancouver, Wash., 1 June 1946, joining the Columbia River Group, Pacific Reserve Fleet.

In the effort to stop Communist aggression In South Korea, veteran ships were called out of reserve to provide support for the U.N. forces in Asia. LST-840 recommissioned 3 November 1950, Lt. JIerle A. Coe in comlllalld. Following training off the West Coust and Hawaii she loaded trucks and equipment, then departeti Honolulu 1 May 1951 for the Pacific staging areas. From June to November, the loading ship operated between Korea and Japan, shuttling cargo and prisoners of war along the war-torn peninsula.

She returned to the United States 27 November and, following overhaul, she departed Oakland, Calif,. 16 May 1952 for duty in Alaska. LST-840 performed cargo operations there for 6 months before returning to San Diego. On 13 March 1953, she sailed on her second Korean tour, arriving Yokosuka 1 May. For the duration of the conflict, she rem,ained in the Inchon vicinity and after the July truce continued peacekeeping operations in the Far East until late November.

After a stay in the United States, LST-840 was back in the Far East, arriving Henrietta Pass, French Indochina, 28 October 1954. In the aftermath of the Indochinese NVar, she loaded French troops and equipment and shuttled them along the coast of southeast Asia. Arriving Subic Bay 22 November, she operated in the Far East until April 1955, then steamed for San Diego.

LST-840 was named Iron County 1 July 1955 and on 10 January 1956 she was en route to Pearl Harbor her new home port. From January 1956 to November i957 she performed amphibious exercises out of Hawaii, returning to the West Coast 23 November. Iron County remained at San Francisco until 1 July 1958 when she was transferred to the Republic of Chinn under the Military Assistance Program. She now serves the Chinese Nationalist Navy as Churg Fu.

USS Iron County (LST-840)

USS Iron County (LST-840) was an LST-542-class tank landing ship built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named after counties in Michigan, Missouri, Utah, and Wisconsin, she was the only U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.

Originally laid down as LST-840 by the American Bridge Company of Ambridge, Pennsylvania on 28 September 1944 launched on 15 November, sponsored by Mrs. C. W. Doerr and commissioned on 11 December with Lieutenant David McC. Bon in command.

USS Iron County LST-840 (1944-1958)

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Iron County LST-840 - History

Stone County (LST-1141)

History of The USS Stone County (LST-1141)

LST-1141 was laid down on 22 January 1945 by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co., Seneca, Ill. launched on 18 April sponsored by Miss Gwendolyn K. Bartels and commissioned on 9 May 1945, Lt. E. M. Biggs, USNR, in command.

After descending the Mississippi, LST-1141 moved from New Orleans to Mobile on 16 May and began her shakedown cruise which lasted from 17 to 31 May. Laden with cargo, she got underway on 16 June for California and arrived at San Pedro on 6 July. She sailed for Hawaii on 13 July and anchored in Pearl Harbor on 23 July. She headed west on 15 August and proceeded, via Eniwetok, to the Marianas arriving at Apra Harbor, Guam, on 31 August. On 5 September, she moved to Saipan. LST-1141 made a voyage to Tokyo, Japan, in early October and then operated in the Marianas until she returned to Pearl Harbor on 6 December enroute to the United States. She reached San Francisco on 22 December 1945 and operated along the California coast until May 1946.

LST-1141 stood out of San Diego on 2 May and headed for the western Pacific on what proved to be a two-year tour. She arrived at Shanghai, China, on 12 June made a voyage to Sasebo, Japan and returned to Tsingtao on the 27th. Thereafter, with the exception of occasional trips to Okinawa, Guam, or the Philippines, she operated along the China coast. On 15 April 1949, the ship departed Shanghai and proceeded–via Keelung, Taiwan Subic Bay and Pearl Harbor–to the United States. Upon her arrival at San Francisco on 4 June, she was ordered to report to the Pacific Reserve Fleet for inactivation. On 24 August 1949, LST-1141 was decommissioned and placed in reserve at San Diego.

The outbreak of hostilities in Korea in June 1950 created a need for additional shipping and, on 7 August, orders were issued to reactivate LST-1141 . The ship was recommissioned on 3 November 1950 at San Diego. After shakedown, refitting, and loading supplies, LST-1141 sailed for Japan on 21 March 1951 and she arrived at Yokosuka on 21 May 1951. During her service in the Far East, she participated in various troop landing exercises, hauled cargo from Japan to Korea, and participated in the “Royal Marine Lift” from Japan to Korea. On 10 February 1952, the ship departed Yokosuka for home.

LST-1141 arrived at San Diego on 8 March and operated along the California coast until 15 January 1953 when she again sailed for Japan, via Pearl Harbor Guam and Chichi Jima, Bonin Islands. She arrived at Yokosuka in late February, moved to Sasebo on 17 March, and sailed to an area off Korea (in Area “S”) where she remained from 20 March to 19 April. The ship refitted at Yokosuka from 22 April to 2 May when she steamed to Inchon. In June, she made a run from Yokosuka to Pusan. This pattern of operations, supply runs from Japan to ports in Korea, continued until November 1953 with little change in their routine. Notable exceptions were the 35 days that the LST spent in enemy-held Wonsan Harbor and her role in Operation “Big Switch”, the transportation of Korean prisoners of war from compounds at Koje Do to Inchon. When this lift was completed, the LST carried Chinese prisoners from Choju Do to Inchon where they were given the opportunity to choose between Communism and freedom.

She steamed out of Yokosuka on 10 December and sailed into San Diego on 20 December 1953. LST-1141 spent 1954 in operations along the west coast which included a yard overhaul and a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. On 3 January 1955, she deployed to the Far East and, after a non-stop voyage, arrived at Yokosuka on 1 February. The ship was attached to the 7th Fleet and aided in the evacuation of the Tachen Islands.

On 5 April, LST-1141 and LST Division 11 sailed for California and arrived at San Diego on the 26th. She spent the remainder of 1955 in various training exercises with United States Marines at San Diego and Oceanside, Calif. On 1 July 1955, LST-1141 was named USS Stone County (LST-1141) to commemorate counties in Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi.

In January 1956, Stone County participated in an exercise at Makusin Bay, Unalaska Island. After 18 months operating along the west coast, she sailed on 13 August 1957 for another tour in the western Pacific. Shortly after her arrival at Yokosuka, the ship loaded marines at Camp McGill on 25 September and lifted them to Naha, Okinawa, before returning to Japan. Two brief exercises followed: one off Okinawa and one at Subic Bay in the Philippines. She departed Subic Bay on 3 January 1958 for Japan, making a port call at Hong Kong en route. The deployment ended on 1 April when the LST returned to San Diego.

Stone County was deployed with the 7th Fleet again from 23 April to 9 December 1959. In 1961, she participated in Operation “Silver Sword” conducted at Maui, Hawaii. In April 1962, the LST operated in the midPacific for the first of three 30-day periods to take part in the EASTPAC Survey. She provided logistic services for Air Force and Army survey teams. Detached in August, she carried soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division from Oahu to the island of Hawaii during September and returned to San Diego on 1 October 1962.

Stone County operated in the Hawaii area again from the fall of 1963 to January 1964 when she returned to the California coast. The ship was deployed to the western Pacific from late January 1965 to 7 May 1965.

Stone County embarked “A” Battery, 2d Light Antiaircraft Missile Battalion at San Diego during July 1965 and sailed for South Vietnam on 10 August. She arrived at Chu Lai on 12 September offloaded the men, missiles, and their launching systems the next day and sailed for Hong Kong. After port calls at Sasebo and Pearl Harbor, she returned to San Diego, arriving on 2 November. In December, she entered Todd Shipyard, San Pedro, Calif., for her regular overhaul, which lasted until 14 February 1966. After refresher and amphibious training, the LST took on troops and sailed for South Vietnam on 9 May, via Pearl Harbor and Subic Bay. She arrived at Chu Lai on 17 June and disembarked elements of the 9th Engineering Battalion, USMC, and sailed the next day for Japan. Stone County arrived at Yokosuka on 28 June and landed the remainder of her troops there. On 9 July, she sailed to Naha and loaded supplies for Danang, departing on the 14th. She arrived at Danang on 20 July and unloaded. From 21 July to 20 September, she operated between Danang and Chu Lai, transporting military cargo in support of American efforts in the I Corps area.

Stone County departed the operations area on 21 September en route to Sasebo for hull repairs. She returned to South Vietnam on 24 October with more cargo from Naha destined for Army forces at Qui Nhon. She commenced a voyage to Okinawa the next day where she loaded equipment to be returned to the United States. She sailed on 2 November, called at Pearl Harbor for two days, and arrived at San Diego on 2 December 1966.

Stone County operated out of her home port throughout 1967 and until March 1968. On 7 March, she got underway for the western Pacific, making port calls at Pearl Harbor, Saipan, Guam, and Subic Bay en route. The LST arrived at Danang on 25 April and operated along the coast until 13 June. After a short upkeep period in Subic Bay from 18 to 28 June, she returned to Danang for duty with the Naval Support Activity. She was on station from 3 to 28 July and then made a two-week trip to Hong Kong. The ship was back on station along the South Vietnamese coast from 10 August to 6 October. On 7 October, Stone County was detached to return to the United States and arrived at San Diego on 31 December 1968.

Stone County operated along the California coast until 23 October 1969 when she sailed for Guam, via Pearl Harbor. She arrived at Apra Harbor, her new home port, on 19 November 1969.

After an overhaul there, Stone County was transferred under lease to Thailand on 12 March 1970, and she served the Royal Thailand Navy as LANTA (LST-4) . She was returned to the custody of the United States on 15 August 1973 and retransferred to the government of Thailand on the same date as a sale. Stone County was struck from the Navy list on 15 August 1973.

Stone County received (4) Battle Stars for Korean service.

[Renumbered to LST-714 between 1995 and 1997, LANTA was still on active duty with the Thai Navy as of May 1999.]

Awards earned during the Vietnam War: Combat Action Ribbon, RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm, RVN Campaign Medal with 60’s device and the Vietnam Service Medal with (5) Battle Stars.

This from former Commanding Officer Jim Giles

I was the last CO of LST 1141. Your web page for 1141 states:

“Stone County operated along the California coast until 23 October 1969 when she sailed for Guam, via Pearl Harbor. She arrived at Apra Harbor, her new home port, on 19 November 1969.”

The Navy did not intend to homeport the 1141 in Guam. Here is what actually happened.

I was part of Landing Ship Squadron 2 in Vung Tau in 1969. Because of the poor material condition of the ships in our squadron, the Squadron Commander dispatched me from Luzerne County, LST 902 to San Diego to pick up the 1141. I had a few enlisted men with me from the squadron. After we took custody of the ship in San Diego, the USS Papago towed us across the Pacific along with another LST. We stopped in Pearl on our way back to Vung Tau. Along the way, I discovered that some of the work supposedly performed on the 1141 in San Diego had, in fact, not been done. I reported this to CINCPAC while were in Pearl. We stopped again in Guam. By that time, I had documented a significant amount of other problems with the 1141 that would have made unable to perform her mission in Viet Nam. The higher-ups decided to overhaul 1141 at the SRF in Guam. We expected to return to Vung Tau after the overhaul. By early 1970, I think that the Vietnamization program was advanced to the point where the 1141 was not needed back in Viet Nam. So, we turned the ship over to the Royal Thai Navy. I returned to Viet Nam with my crew. There I served on the Page County and later the 902. The 902 returned to the US in March 1970 and was struck.

Iron County LST-840 - History

Sumner County (LST-1148)

History of The USS Sumner County (LST-1148)

LST-1148 was laid down on 15 February 1945 by the Chicago Bridge and Iron Co., Seneca, Ill. launched on 22 May 1945 sponsored by Mrs. H. M. Fay and commissioned on 9 June 1945, Lt. Richard Goodhart, USCGR, in command.

LST-1148 moved down the Mississippi River to New Orleans and held her shakedown in Galveston Bay from 19 June to 1 July. Following a short yard availability period, she loaded cargo and stood out of New Orleans on 13 July en route to the Pacific. After transiting the Panama Canal, she called at San Diego and Seattle before arriving at Pearl Harbor on 27 August. She sailed from there for Okinawa on 7 October and arrived at Buckner Bay on the 25th. Three days later, she got underway for Japan and arrived at Sasebo on 30 October.

LST-1148 remained at Sasebo for 18 days during which time most of the cargo was unloaded. She departed Sasebo on 18 November for Okinawa. The remainder of the cargo was offloaded there between 23 and 28 November. The LST stood out of Buckner Bay on 8 December en route to Saipan and arrived there on the 21st. On 27 December 1945, she was routed onward to the United States, via Pearl Harbor, and arrived at San Pedro on 30 January 1946. She moved up the coast to San Francisco unloaded her cargo and proceeded to Astoria, Oregon, for inactivation without an overhaul. She was placed in reserve, out of commission, on 11 May 1946 and berthed in the Columbia River.

LST-1148 was placed in commission again on 3 October 1950 at the Naval Base, Astoria, Oregon. After a yard period and refresher training, she steamed to San Diego for further training from 14 December 1950 to 1 March 1951. She then moved to Port Hueneme loaded cargo and departed for the Far East on 3 March. The LST arrived at Yokosuka, Japan, on 7 April, and based her operations there. The ship mostly operated in Japanese waters but made two voyages to Inchon, Korea, in October 1951. She returned to San Diego on 19 December 1951. Following a three-month overhaul at San Francisco and refresher training, LST-1148 sailed on 25 August 1952 to begin her second tour in the Far East. She operated between Japanese ports and Inchon, Koje Do, Sokcho-Ri, and Pusan, Korea. She returned to San Diego on 16 May 1953 and commenced local operations, including amphibious landings, along the California cost.

LST-1148 was in the Mare Island Naval Shipyard from 23 November 1953 to 2 February 1954. She returned to her home port for a month of refresher training and, on 27 March got underway for her third tour in WestPac. She arrived in Yokosuka on 25 April and engaged in training operations which took her to Korea and Okinawa. On 17 August, she departed Yokosuka for French Indochina. Between 29 August and 24 September, the ship evacuated over 3,000 refugees from the Haiphong area to Tourane. She returned to Japan on 5 October and to San Diego on 7 November 1954. Her stateside tour was short as she headed westward again on 16 March 1955 to operate in Japanese waters until 19 October before returning home. On 1 July 1955 the LST was formally named USS Sumner County (LST-1148) to honor counties in Kansas and Tennessee.

Sumner County deployed to the Far East again from 28 August 1956 to early May 1957. After a two-month leave and upkeep period at San Diego, she departed on 17 July for Hawaii and Operation “Tradewinds,” returning on 31 August. She left San Diego on 1 October 1957 with two other LST’s on a five-week voyage to Kodiak, Alaska. Sumner County had her annual overhaul at San Diego during January and February 1958 which was followed by refresher and amphibious training exercises prior to her forthcoming deployment. She deployed to the Far East from 6 June to 11 December 1958.

In early 1959, Sumner County was nominated to support the HIRAN project in the Marshall Islands. She spent three months transporting men and equipment of Air Survey Team 9 and the Army Mapping Service between the islands of the Marshall group. The project was completed in May, and the ship returned to San Diego. On 3 November 1959, she sailed to Alaska to participate in Operation “Totem Pole” in the Kodiak area. She then returned to San Diego where she participated in local exercises and fleet amphibious exercises for the next two and one-half years.

Sumner County sailed to Hawaii on 27 August 1962 and participated in amphibious exercises there until 7 November. On 26 December 1962, she again departed for Hawaii to support operations for Commander, Service Forces, Pacific. She supported the Service Forces in Hawaii again from 26 December 1962 to 1 April 1963. In June, she sailed to Alaska to participate in a Bureau of Ships project which lasted until 19 July. The remainder of the year and all of 1964 were spent in exercises off the lower California coast.

Sumner County sailed to Hawaii from 20 January to 17 February and participated in Exercise “Silver Lance.” She was at San Diego for one day and ordered to sail for Hawaii on 18 February. The LST arrived at Pearl Harbor on 1 March. On 20 March, she was routed westward to Okinawa and attached to the 7th Fleet. After steaming to Sasebo for an upkeep period from 4 to 9 April, she then got underway for the United States. The ship was at San Diego from 6 May to 7 July when she again headed west. Sumner County arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 17th and departed for Subic Bay, P.I., two days later. She remained there from 9 to 14 August preparing for a prolonged tour in Vietnam.

Sumner County arrived at Danang on 16 August and began supporting the Coast Guard patrol boats participating in Operation “Market Time”, This duty continued until 27 December 1965 when she began transporting cargo up and down the coast to such ports as Cam Ranh Bay, Phan Rang, Nha Trang, Saigon, and Tuy Hoa. On 20 January 1966 the LST broached in heavy weather at Tuy Hoa, causing hull and shaft damage. She was towed to Sasebo for repairs and dry docked there from 8 to 24 February. Three days later, she was underway for the United States via Pearl Harbor.

Sumner County arrived at San Diego on 30 March. Four months later she was again en route to Vietnam, via Iwakuni, Japan, with elements of Marine Air Group (MAG) 15 embarked. The marines were disembarked at Iwakuni on 19 August, and the ship sailed to Yokosuka for an upkeep period. On 20 September, she sailed for Danang with elements of MAG-17. They were off-loaded at Danang on the 29th and the Sumner County then began shuttling troops, cargo, and equipment from Danang to Chu Lai in support of the marines there. She sailed for Sasebo on 24 October and thence to the United States, via Pearl Harbor, arriving at San Diego on 13 December 1966.

Sumner County was only away from her home port from 17 May to 11 June 1967 when she transported 100 marines and cargo to Hawaii. She was deployed to WestPac from 7 May to 24 December 1968. During this period she shuttled cargo and supplies from Danang to Tan My and Cua Viet from 25 June to 1 August 6 August to 3 September and from 28 September to 3 November. This was the ship’s last period of deployment as it was decided that she would be inactivated.

Sumner County departed San Diego on 29 August 1969 for the east coast and arrived at Orange, Tex., on 19 September, to begin preparations for decommissioning. She was placed out of commission, in reserve, there on 9 October and attached to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She was still attached to that fleet as of March 1975.

Awards earned during the Vietnam War: Combat Action Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation, RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm, RVN Civil Action Medal, First Class, with Palm, RVN Campaign Medal with 60’s device and the Vietnam Service Medal with (9) Battle Stars.

Welcome aboard the only operational LST in WWII configuration afloat in US waters.

The LST-325—the last fully operational WWII Landing Ship Tank (LST)—is open for tours seasonally throughout the year in her home port of Evansville, Indiana. She leaves port in the early fall to sail the nation’s inland rivers. Her crew of volunteers shares the history of these incredible vessels, the men and women who built them, and those who served on them.

Our primary concern is the health and safety of our visitors, volunteers, and staff members. Tours of the LST-325 will be altered to better meet recommended “social distancing” practices. Visitors are encouraged to wear masks and may be subject to temperature checks before joining tours.

We will continue to monitor and assess the situation to determine if any further action is required. Updates will be shared via Facebook, Twitter, and our website. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience and understanding.


World War II

Following shakedown training on the way to Camp Bradford in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, additional personnel reported aboard for more shakedown training on the Chesapeake Bay. With Lieutenant Frank L. Brimmer, USN, in command, LST-519 departed the United States as part of Convoy UGS-36 for North Africa.

On 1 April 1944, while off Cape Cher-chel, Algeria, the convoy was attacked by thirty Ju 88 and Do 214 bombers flying out of Southern France. Although all of the LST-519 guns fired at the enemy, the ship was not credited with downing any of the attacking German aircraft.

At Oran, Algeria, LCT-148 was secured to the main deck for transport to England. She arrived at Plymouth on 11 May 1944.

LST-519 received two battle stars in World War II – one each for Convoy UGS-36 and the D-Day landing at Juno Beach on 6 June 1944. She was employed in shuttling tanks, other vehicles, supplies and troops to France. After delivering tanks, trucks, ambulances, railroad cars, ammunition and other supplies to the beaches of Normandy and Seine River ports and to the other ports of France, LST-519 would return to England with wounded soldiers, damaged equipment or prisoners. Following the collapse of Germany LST-519 was attached to the British 226th Section of the 25th Bomb Disposal Company, Corps of Royal Engineers. Her primary mission in May 1945 was to dispose of condemned ammunition from Kiel and Hamburg in deep water.

LST-519 made fifty-three round trips across the English Channel, second only to one other American LST. After hostilities ceased, LST-519 departed Plymouth, England, on 9 July 1945, arriving Norfolk, VA, on 25 July 1945.

Post World War II

On 5 December 1945, the operational command of LST-519 was transferred from the Amphibious Force to the Service Force. Mid-January, 1946, found her in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the first postwar Atlantic Fleet maneuvers. On the trip from Norfolk, LST-519 transported on her main deck four LCM landing craft, each of which carried an LCVP inside. Present for the occasion were the Missouri (BB-63), Princeton (CV-37), cruisers, destroyers and fleet auxiliaries. LST-519 was one of several LSTs that served as mother-ships to small boat crews who operated LCMs and LCVPs as liberty boats for the fleet anchored in the harbor.

Leaving Cuba in mid-February for Searsport, Maine, on the Penobscot Bay, LST-519 had to put in at Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard to repair storm damage suffered in a gale off Cape Hatteras. She then proceeded to Searsport, for her next assignment.

At Searsport, a Liberty ship transloaded over 350 tons of obsolete 1,000- and 500-pound aerial bombs into a newly constructed temporary wooden bin on the main deck. Out past the continental shelf — about one hundred fifty miles offshore with a minimum depth of 1,000 fathoms — these bombs were dumped along with 5,280 bazooka anti-tank rounds. At least four such bomb-dumping missions were made before the LST-519 was relieved by three other LSTs.

Davisville, Rhode Island, was the next port of call. A tank deck full of steel pontoon cubes were transported to Norfolk Navy Yard where they were promptly assembled into large pontoon barges as soon as they were unloaded.

On 15 July 1946, the LST-519 was transferred to the Commander, Eastern Sea Frontier for duty as a disposal vessel of defective and obsolete munitions. To facilitate dumping of ordnance, toxic and nuclear waste at sea, special equipment and bins were installed. After this, LST-519 operated off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, disposing of ammunition from Naval ammunition depots at Indianhead, MD Hingham, MA Yorktown, VA Charleston, SC Earle, NJ Fort Mifflin, PA New Orleans, LA and Newport, RI.

In accordance with a Secretary of the Navy directive dated 12 May 1955, LST-519 was renamed USS Calhoun County (LST-519) effective 1 July 1955. The 519 is the first ship with this name. The name honors a Calhoun County located in each of eleven states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.

On the morning of 20 June 1956, while dumping condemned ammunition from NAD Charleston, the Calhoun County experienced underwater explosions, caused by the detonation of several torpex-loaded torpedo warheads. Minor hull damage resulted, but there were no personnel casualties. Repairs were made at Savannah, GA.

From 24 August to 23 October 1956, Calhoun County underwent its regular shipyard overhaul at the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, Staten Island, NY. Major improvements effected during this period were the installation of a new radar and the renewal of most of the ammunition bin on the main deck. Following her overhaul, the Calhoun County reported to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for refresher training from 6 to 24 November 1956. She received an overall mark of GOOD on her battle problem.

Calhoun County was struck by the SS Nellie on 27 June 1959 in the vicinity of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. As the result, the 40 mm gun tub on the port side had to be removed and the degaussing system was placed out of commission. There were no personnel casualties. During April, 1960, Calhoun County operated with TG 7.3 on a scientific mission in the vicinity of Roosevelt Roads, PR. A shipyard overhaul was completed in September, 1960, after which she participated in underway training in the Norfolk, VA, area. In October, she was deployed to US Naval Station, Argentia, Newfoundland, for ammunition disposal. After four disposal trips, this command undertook an amphibious disembarking of an experimental team off the beach of LaPoille, Newfoundland. This was followed by a five day “good will” trip to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

November, 1960, through June, 1961, the Calhoun County was engaged in routine dumping operations from Boston to Charleston. She was decommissioned 1 November 1962 after eighteen-and-a-half years of Naval service. Only one other LST of the WWII class was in continuous commission longer than the LST-519. Her final duty was as a gunnery target for several warships. However, gunfire failed to sink her, so demolition charges were used to carry out the coup de grâce.

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

During World War II, LST-853 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific theater and participated in the assault and occupation of Okinawa Gunto in May and June 1945. Following the war, the ship performed occupation duty in the Far East until early December 1945. She returned to the United States and was decommissioned July 24, 1946 and assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

On July 1, 1955, she was redesignated Kane County (LST-853) (q.v.) after counties in Illinois and Utah. Kane County was transferred to the Republic of Korea Navy on December 22, 1958 where she served as Su Yong (LST-813).

LST-853 earned one battle star for World War II service.

LST-853 was laid down by Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., Seneca, Ill., 30 August 1944 launched 17 November sponsored by Mrs. Ellen Scott DeCoursey and commissioned 11 December, Lt. Charles B. Salsbury in command.

After shakedown off Florida, LST-853 departed New Orleans for the Pacific 19 January 1945. She loaded troops and equipment on the West Coast before steaming from Seattle 10 March. Sailing via Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok, and Guam, she arrived Saipan 25 April. The landing ship embarked units of the 1878th Engineer Aviation Battalion, then sailed on the 27th for Okinawa. Arriving 6 days later in the midst of enemy air raids, LST-853 discharged men and equipment on this strategic base which lay at the gateway to Japan.

She returned Saipan 24 May and, during the remaining months of the war, shuttled troops and equipment among the Marianas, Philippines, and Okinawa staging areas for the planned invasion of Japan. The enemy's acceptance of Allied peace terms obviated an invasion, so LST-853 then operated in the Far East, transporting occupation forces until early December.

Arriving Saipan 13 December, she embarked veterans of the Pacific fighting in the Marianas and sailed for the United States in January 1946. After arrival on the West Coast, LST-853 then sailed to Astoria, Oreg. and decommissioned at Vancouver, Wash., 24 July. While berthed in the Columbia River with the Pacific Reserve Fleet, she was named Kane County 1 June 1955.

Under provisions of the Military Assistance Program, she was transferred to the Republic of Korea 22 December 1958, and served the ROK Navy as Su Yong (LST-813).

LST-853 received one battle star for World War II service. Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey

Seneca Shipyard for Landing Ship, Tanks (LST)

See also: Location and Monument
(For future reference: USLST contains three photos of the Evansville yard.)

LST-325 stranded at low tide on 12 June 1944, while delivering materiel to the Normandy beachhead. (National Archives) via NavyTimes

During World War II, Chicago Bridge and Iron Co. built the "Prairie Shipyard" in Seneca, IL, to build landing ships. It built 157 of the 1051 LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) that were built during WW2. 23 of the LSTs participated in the D-Day assault. has pictures of LST-199 being launched at Seneca and unloading at Normandy.

Landing Ships were designed to have a flat bottom with a shallow draft so that they could get close to land. Thus the 9-foot channel of the Illinois River was adequate for these ships even though they were 327 feet long and weighed 5,500 tons. This freed up the coastal shipyards to build the larger ships such as aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers and destroyers. Seneca was chosen because only 30 inches of topsoil and creviced limestone had to be removed to get to solid sandstone bedrock that could support the weight of the steel supplies and erected hulls.

Landing Ships Tank (LST) land invasion supplies on Omaha Beach, shortly after the 6 June 1944 D-Day assault. (National Archives) via NavyTimes

The 200 acre site was wedge shaped with three-fourths of a mile along the river. There were 15 berths parallel to the river for erecting ships. As the ships were completed, they were moved to a central way and then prepared for launch. There were 3 Caterpillar tractors to move a ship to the launch way.

Sections were fabricated and hoisted into place to avoid the time and cost of erecting scaffolding. To construct one ship, the hull department welded 23,300 pieces totaling 1,340 tons of steel (Colby). Most jobs began with a two-week training period, but welders were trained for four to six weeks. Chicago Bridge and Iron Company was chosen as the contractor because of their welding experience manufacturing their primary product---pressurized tanks of various types and shapes. Many a town had a water tower which had been constructed by CBI. Teams moved from ship to ship doing the same work on each one. It required 880,000 man hours (actually, probably some women hours) to construct the first ship which was launched Dec. 13, 1942. The last ship was built with 280,000 person hours.

39 gallons of champagne were used to launch the 157 ships. The initial plan was to launch a ship each week, but CBI achieved a launch rate of 7 per month. Because they were launching into a river, the ships slid in sideways. They hit the water at a speed of 22 to 28 mph. Observers on the south bank were frequently drenched by the wave of water traveling from the river across the fields. The ships were launched with the radar mast laid flat on the deck. When they got to New Orleans, the mast was raised again and the radar equipment was installed.

LST-77 lands Fifth Army M-4 "Sherman" Tanks on the Anzio Waterfront, 27 April 1944. (National Archives) via NavyTimes
[LSTs were used to in invade Italy before the invasion of France.]

My road atlas indicates the current population of Seneca is 2,371. The population at the beginning of the war was 1,200. During the war, about 27,000 people worked at the shipyard. The peak employment was 11,000. And some of those workers had kids. So the population of Seneca was an order of magnitude more than it is today. The Chicago Tribune has a big article on the shipyard by Ted Gregory on page 12 of the Main section of their June 8, 2014, issue. The article includes the recollections of the native Sandra Timmons on the impact of the population growth on the town.

By May, 1946, the shipyard had been silent for almost a year and structures were being torn down. But the town kept the waterworks, sewage disposal system, better streets, fire protection equipment, and a new school building that the Navy built.

A mobile crane lifts a crate during pre-invasion loading in an English port, circa late May or early June 1944. USS LST-374 (center) and USS LST-314 (extreme right) are at the ramps in the background. LST-314 was sunk by German motor torpedo boats on 9 June 1944. (National Archives) via NavyTimes

The town has built a monument to the men and women who built the LSTs and who served on them.

The pictures from the main source I used for the shipyard info.

Omaha Beach
Loading Supplies
Unloading Supplies

Steve OConnor provided several comments concerning the impact on the population of Seneca in his posting concerning Illinois's contribution to the WWII war production. Of particular interest are thse pictures.

Watch the video: BigIron